Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.

Would you be willing to play in ECF-graded hybrid events?

Poll ended at Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:54 pm

a) Definitely. They would bring players together safely, encourage ECF membership renewals and reduce travelling costs.
7
18%
b) No. Hybrid games would not be normal, so I would wait until over-the-board chess is back.
27
68%
c) Maybe. I'd be willing to try hybrid events and see if they work.
6
15%
 
Total votes: 40

Jacob Ward
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Jacob Ward » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:53 pm

"Hybrid chess" is an interesting idea, but if I'm going to play the game online on my laptop anyway, why would I want to travel to a community centre when I could play from the comfort of my own home? It seems to combine the inconvenience of travelling and the risks of attending a community centre with the discomfort of staring at a screen for a long period. I can see that it somewhat reduces the risk of cheating, but I'm just not that concerned about that, or particularly convinced that an arbiter there in person will prevent cheating more effectively than some form of remote monitoring.

If I'm going to travel to a tournament, I want real pieces on a board. Adam's approach sounds far more sensible and (circumstances permitting) I will enter his planned event.

If I were running the ECF, I would focus my attention on:
  1. Assisting with the logistics of running OTB events during the pandemic - clear explanations of the relevant law as it evolves, recommendations for measures to take, practical help like lists of suppliers of masks and hand sanitiser, how to effectively clean chess sets without ruining them and so on. I suspect it is hard to know what to do at the moment, and lots of tournament organisers I'm sure will decide it's too hard or too risky to work all this out themselves.
  2. Running and publicising events online. I'm an ECF member and it was only while writing this post that I discovered that the ECF is actually running an online grading system, although I had heard that USCF was doing so. I wonder how many others hadn't realised it existed?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:33 pm

Jacob Ward wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:53 pm
Assisting with the logistics of running OTB events during the pandemic - clear explanations of the relevant law as it evolves, recommendations for measures to take, practical help like lists of suppliers of masks and hand sanitiser, how to effectively clean chess sets without ruining them and so on. I suspect it is hard to know what to do at the moment, and lots of tournament organisers I'm sure will decide it's too hard or too risky to work all this out themselves.
Not just tournament organisers, but club secretaries and match captains as well.

Arguably the pandemic has passed, the evidence being that the weekly total of people dying of all causes is now back at or below a five year average. But authorities are regarding the threat as stronger than the execution, so they are concerned it could or will come back if measures to keep people apart and prevent large gatherings aren't maintained.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Michael Farthing » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:43 am

Jacob Ward wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:53 pm

If I were running the ECF, I would focus my attention on:
Then you'd have a lot of people on this forum complaining about all the other things other people expect the ECF to do that you'd be neglecting :(
[Not meant nastily, Jacob]

More seriously, phrases like, "The ECF should..." (which Jacob did not use) comes very glibly as if the "ECF" is a gigantic corporation of unlimited power and wisdom and that can magically rise to all these requests. The ECF is actually all of us who are direct members so in a sense "The ECF should.." should really be interpreted as a statement beginning "I should.."

However, I suppose most people would interpret the ECF as meaning ten (unpaid) board members, having to balance this with their other commitments, with 2.5 paid members of staff aided by a group of other volunteers who have undertaken particular jobs but who are busy beavering away at those jobs and not really wanting or having the time and enthusiasm to take on extras. It's a tiny organisation.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:56 am

Michael Farthing wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:43 am
However, I suppose most people would interpret the ECF as meaning ten (unpaid) board members, having to balance this with their other commitments, with 2.5 paid members of staff aided by a group of other volunteers who have undertaken particular jobs but who are busy beavering away at those jobs and not really wanting or having the time and enthusiasm to take on extras. It's a tiny organisation.
An organisation with this many volunteers and membership income of c.£200 000 a year, as well as support from various charities, is tiny compared to some things. But it dwarfs everything except CSC as a chess org in the England.

If the ECF wants to stay this big, or grow, it has a responsibility to lead.

J T Melsom
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by J T Melsom » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:06 am

Trying to stay on point, I think the ECF has shown leadership during the pandemic. It has provided advice on the prospects for a return and factors to consider - it cannot be blamed if the government messages themselves have been mixed. It has provided alternative forms of competition for the membership. And at the same time, it has had to deal with its duty of care to its staff members in these uncertain times. Many would object if the ECF showed a level of leadership that threatened local autonomy.

These are unprecedented times - I think the ECF leadership deserves our thanks.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Paul Habershon » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:15 am

J T Melsom wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:57 pm

I've been trying to get to the bottom of the multiple households engaging in an activity question. The guidance advises against social interaction with those from more than your household and one other. And within your social group there are also the recommendations about sharing equipment to consider. I am slightly curious as to how the Bedford AGM was compliant. Less than two weeks ago one friend declined to join me and another friend for a walk because he didn't think we could sit at the same table in a pub if we had to go indoors. What has changed?
The Bedford AGM in a large room upstairs in our social club venue had everyone at least two metres apart. Pubs and social clubs had been allowed to open. We had to record our personal contact details in a book in the foyer.

J T Melsom
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by J T Melsom » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:24 am

Paul - Thank you. My 'curiousity' as to how the guidance was being interpreted was exactly that - not intended as criticism of your club. My experiences of rural pubs so far has highlighted that even in that sector of the economy, solutions to facilitate re-opening and compliance can look very different.

Jacob Ward
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Jacob Ward » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:22 am

Michael Farthing wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:43 am

More seriously, phrases like, "The ECF should..." (which Jacob did not use) comes very glibly as if the "ECF" is a gigantic corporation of unlimited power and wisdom and that can magically rise to all these requests. The ECF is actually all of us who are direct members so in a sense "The ECF should.." should really be interpreted as a statement beginning "I should.."

However, I suppose most people would interpret the ECF as meaning ten (unpaid) board members, having to balance this with their other commitments, with 2.5 paid members of staff aided by a group of other volunteers who have undertaken particular jobs but who are busy beavering away at those jobs and not really wanting or having the time and enthusiasm to take on extras. It's a tiny organisation.
I think that's a little unfair - I was intentionally suggesting things that could be done at little cost and that have a large advantage to centralisation. If tournaments are going to run, for example, someone has to figure out all the logistics - far more efficient for the ECF to do it once (with updates based on feedback from the events) than for each tournament organiser to plow their own furrow. I think that sort of step can have a disproportionate encouraging effect if tournament organisers feel reassured that they will be following central guidance rather than making it up as they go - and therefore being out on their own if anything goes wrong.

Separately, I initially voted "maybe" on this poll because I thought hybrid events was going to mean events that you could enter either online or in person. I'm not sure how or if that could work, but I was intrigued by the suggestion (which it then turned out wasn't being made!)

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:39 pm

This thread title is interesting - the only distinction I would like to suggest is that saving the ECF and saving English Chess, actually mean slightly different things, it is highly possible we can save both, or either, or even none at all..

If we take the big picture view, even before the virus, 'English Chess' was quite healthy - regardless of ECF memberships, the number of people playing online chess in England had never been higher.

However, if we are talking about chess organised under the auspices of our institutions, the ECF, and our Leagues, the picture will be blurred. Institutions, like 4NCL that attract the top teams in England and abroad, will survive no matter what the situation is. Local congresses will be in a quandary, the choice is to 1) wait till they are safe to resume over the board, or 2) simply run them under Government approved conditions (1m apart, more spaced out boards, face masks) with the proviso that players attend at their own risk, and catching the virus is not the organisers' responsibility. The later option is - however - a much more difficult choice for local leagues, who can not realistically run a league saying "teams may enter at their own risk!", especially given the existence of any league ultimately is at the grace of local clubs having a venue.

Some Leagues that are large enough will survive, to paraphrase Varys in Game of Thrones "the big fish eat the little fish, and I just keep paddling".

However, given the first option will be the de facto, for Leagues who's match nights are on a fixed day, say every Thursday, a prolonged suspension of over the board chess, will led to many players opting to do other things on a given weekday. And, once that happens, we may find these players are not all that interested in coming back to over-the-board chess, even when it resumes. (This scenario may be less severe for Leagues where the match nights are not fixed on a particular weekday, as those who wish to return will always be able to find a day where they can play chess)

Nevertheless, local leagues have to be conscious that if they don't act for too long, there may not be a league to come back to..
Last edited by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu on Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Delegate for Coventry & District, and Leamington & District
Vice Chair @ Coventry and District Chess League | former-President @ Warwick University Chess
Celebrating 100 Years of the Coventry & District Chess League 1919-2019

NickFaulks
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:41 pm

Jacob Ward wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:22 am
and therefore being out on their own if anything goes wrong.
I think that's the point. If clubs try something that does get them into trouble, the ECF may not want them saying "the ECF said it was ok". I could understand that.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:19 pm

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:39 pm
the number of people playing online chess in England had never been higher.
Are there any statistics to demonstrate this? A reasonably consistent number of over the board players is available readily enough from the count of players playing at least one graded game over a year. It's not greatly different from what it was ten years ago. For adults, it's a lot of the same people as well.
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:39 pm
However, given the first option will be the de facto, for Leagues who's match nights are on a fixed day, say every Thursday, a prolonged suspension of over the board chess, will led to many players opting to do other things on a given weekday.
I would suspect that's a problem localised to Coventry, as elsewhere league play would take place on the meeting night of the home club, which would be whatever they chose.

Jacob Ward
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Jacob Ward » Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:44 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:41 pm
Jacob Ward wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:22 am
and therefore being out on their own if anything goes wrong.
I think that's the point. If clubs try something that does get them into trouble, the ECF may not want them saying "the ECF said it was ok". I could understand that.
I see your point, but there's another risk for the ECF: if they take the position that it's all on individual organisers and it's not for the ECF to give guidance, people may ask - with some justification, in my view - what's the point in you then, and why should we pay you? Other national bodies are able to offer that sort of support.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Ian Thompson » Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:56 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:19 pm
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:39 pm
However, given the first option will be the de facto, for Leagues who's match nights are on a fixed day, say every Thursday, a prolonged suspension of over the board chess, will led to many players opting to do other things on a given weekday.
I would suspect that's a problem localised to Coventry, as elsewhere league play would take place on the meeting night of the home club, which would be whatever they chose.
London League central venue is another example, although only some clubs choose to play there. Similarly, many matches in the Central London League are played at one venue on one night of the week.

Nick Grey
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:37 pm

London League central venue. When? 2020 2021 or 2022?

Matt Bridgeman
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Re: Could Hybrid events save English chess?

Post by Matt Bridgeman » Wed Aug 12, 2020 9:17 am

A big hybrid event scheduled for September. Tournament halls with computers selected by the Federations and monitored by cameras;
https://www.europechess.org/european-on ... gulations/

I believe Scotland and Ireland are entering. England isn’t entering. And I’m not sure about Wales.

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